plant quick find clear
Mint plants have long been prized for crisp, soothing aroma and ease of growth. In fact, they grow so well that in some cases they get a little too rambunctious. One plant is usually plenty to supply a summer’s worth of mint. Along with their culinary and aromatic properties, mint deters insects and attracts pollinators.
Upload your photo here.
Part Sun, Sun
Under 6 inches to 8 feet
From 1 to 4 feet
When people typically think of mint, the two types come to mind: peppermint and spearmint. There are several other lesser known species, all with a distinct taste. Mint plants are easily hybridized, and several hybrids occur naturally. Hybrids have delicious and beautiful flavors, smells, and intensities.
Most commonly grown for their culinary appeal, many species are attractive. In summer, clusters of small blooms top tall spikes of greenery. The flowers form in tight little spikes often in soft lavender, but also white or pink, too. There are also attractive variegated mints, which make eye-catching garnishes. Look for variegated pineapple mint with its cream-edged fuzzy leaves or ginger mint with deep green leaves and golden veins.
Mint Care Must-Knows
No matter which variety you decide to grow, mint tolerates a variety of soil conditions. For the most productive plants with the most flavor, plant mint in soil rich in organic matter and provide consistent moisture. Although many varieties tolerate drought, they won't grow as well or have as good a flavor. Mint grows well in containers, which is a perfect way to have a clump right near your kitchen door for quick and easy clipping for recipes. This is also a great way to control its aggressive habit. Mint spreads quickly by underground runners known as rhizomes and can quickly take over a garden bed and out-compete nearby plants. If you want the mint in the ground, plant it in a container with the bottom removed to contain the runners.
Mint grows best in full sun as long as they are well-watered, otherwise they tolerate part shade. If you are growing mint for their flowers to attract beneficial insects to the garden, plant them in full sun.
The best time to harvest your mint is in the morning before heat or sun has dried the leaves. For the best flavor, pick mint before the plants bloom. After it flowers, you won't get as strong a flavor. Simply pluck off leaves as needed, or shearing the stems back, which also encourages good branching and new flushes of tender growth.
More Varieties of Mint
Mentha requienii, also known as Corsican mint, is a diminutive little mint that has tiny leaves and gets no more than 4" tall. While not used as commonly for culinary purposes, it makes a fragrant groundcover. Zones 6-9.
Mentha x gracilis, often referred to as ginger mint, is a lovely mint has bright green foliage with yellow veins. It has a gingery scent atop the common mint fragrance. Zones 5-9.
'Hillary's Sweet Lemon' Mint
Mentha dulcia citreus 'Hillary's Sweet Lemon' was developed from a cross of apple mint and lime mint, affording a fruity, citrusy aroma to the plant. It was named for former First Lady Hillary Clinton. The plant produces gray-green foliage, which grows to 18 inches tall, and, like most mints, it can spread aggressively. Zones 4-9.
'Himalayan Silver' Spearmint
This variety of Mentha spicata has silvery, elongated leaves on plants that grow 18-24 inches tall and wide. In summer, the plant produces an abundance of pinkish flowers, which dry well. Zones 4-10.
Mentha longifolia is a type of water mint native to the Mediterranean, but it also has naturalized in much of the eastern United States. It has numerous common names, including horsemint, Habek mint, brook mint, and buddleia mint. With its elongated gray foliage on a plant growing up to 4 feet tall, it resembles butterfly bush (Buddleia spp.). Zones 5-11.
Mentha piperita f. citrata 'Orange', also called bergamot mint, develops bright green leaves lightly tinged with red. The foliage has a lovely citrus fragrance and flavor that makes it a good addition to a wide range of dishes. It grows 3 feet tall and spreads several feet wide. Zones 4-9.
Mentha arvensis, also known as field mint or corn mint, is native throughout most of North America. It bears whorls of white, pale lavender, or pale pink flowers from mid- to late summer. You are most likely to find plants through native plant society plant sales. Like most mints, it can spread aggressively. Zones 2-10.